Key messages include a recognition that things are becoming more complex and that new technologies will drive the direction of the grid, not the other way around. We’re not just talking electricity here either, there needs to be a significant decarbonisation of heat if we’re going to cope.
What lies ahead?
Based on the National Grid’s own data, we have already seen more than one STOR event per day in 2017 as the grid desperately tries to balance demand against supply. To quote directly from the report:
Market and regulatory arrangements need to adapt swiftly to support a flexible energy system with an increasing number of participants.
It specifically mentions Electric Vehicles (EV), Energy Storage and Demand Side Response as areas of concern and predicts a 50% growth in storage by 2020. These solutions may well generate their own problems and there’s recognition that investment is required, which will result in ever higher costs for consumers. Not only that, but the shape of demand has already, and will continue, to shift and increase. The prediction is that by 2050, we’ll see a national Maximum Demand of 85GW, up from 60GW today. EV will play no small part in this, particularly at certain times of day. Local area infrastructure will need to be enhanced or the next thing to happen after everyone plugs their car in is that the lights will trip when the kettle goes on!
And for Heat?
More heavily used than electricity, gas has similar infrastructure issues, traditional sources are in decline and the shift to electric powered technologies is underway. How this continues in future years depends on the economic scenario, however, it would not be unreasonable to predict a halving of gas usage, almost entirely replaced by smaller scale electrical generation.
Ifs, Buts and Maybes
In electricity, the variation between centralised and decentralised supply is becoming increasingly important. For consumers, the difference matters not; nationally demand must meet supply, for network planning and operational purposes, the distinction is, nevertheless, crucial.
The real crux therefore is where and when the peaks are going to occur. National Grid suggests an increase in demand of 1.3GW per year up to 2045, with some 20% as a result of consumers charging vehicles at peak time. Intermittency of decentralised generation won’t match that demand, linked storage will be the key.
We can’t predict any of this accurately at this stage, National Grid has revised their storage forecasts from 2016, with the long term going down and the short term rising significantly. The growth curve for EV is little more than guesswork, and this is only one small part of the jigsaw. The only certainty is uncertainty, the only action you can take is to be prepared.
For unbiased advice on any of these topics or if you want to discuss how you can make sure your business has Efficient Power Solutions in place for when you need them then please contact Dave or Kevin at Efficient Power Solutions on 01909 569016.